Honda was my initiation into motorcycling, the Honda Shadow 750.
This bike was a super ride. Well balanced, not heavy, but not too light either, an ideal weight, forgiving of errors, easy to ride…in short, it was a terrific bike. I bought it in the late 1990’s when I took up riding.
I rode this bike for a couple of years but found it had one flaw. The flaw may not have been inherent to the bike. It may have been ME. The bike was underpowered. It struggled in a wind, panted on a hill and would have lost to a turtle in an acceleration challenge with me on it. Finally, it dawned on me. The bike did not have a power problem. It was the rider who had a weight problem and this impacted critically on the Shadow.
Soon I began to tire of this power difficulty and decided the solution would be in moving up to a more powerful bike.
HONDA VTX 1800
The Honda VTX 1800 was my new solution.
What a machine! A giant! A monster! Indescribable power! But one flaw, it was like me, too heavy. “Oh, you’ll get used to it,” the dealer said. “Give it time,” other riders said. One year later, I was still struggling with its size. Two years, and a cross Canada ride. Too much weight.
This was a great bike as a cruiser. Rock steady at speed. Excellent power at any speed. That acceleration challenging turtle never had a chance, ever. Riding along the highway, this bike was so smooth, I once dozed off. Luckily, I awoke within a second or two and pulled over for a nap. Three years down the road, I felt the bike was still too much for me. So I began my hunt for a replacement ride.
BMW R1200RT 2014
Enter the BMW R1200RT, 2006.
This bike turned out to be my IDEAL machine. Great weight, as a starter, about 630 lbs. This turned out to be very manageable. Maneuverability, amazing. This bike rode like a sport bike. Twisties, no problem. Tight circles, a breeze. Figure 8’s in a parking lot, easy peasy.
I loved this bike. Crossed Canada a few times with my Ace riding partner, my wife. The American east coast, yeah man! Deals Gap, NC…only real riders know what I am saying here. I got rained out, so I will have to do it again some day, soon, before old man age defeats me; New Orleans, the American midwest, oh yes! This bike and my wife as the passenger. A man couldn’t ask for more.
Because of its very manageable weight, when this bike went down, I could pick it up, on my own. Not like the VTX which once slipped and tipped over on a grassy slope outside of Drumheller, Alberta. I had to flag a vehicle over and ask its two passengers to help me right the bike.
The R1200RT was a dream bike. Rock steady on the highway. A superb deflector of rain and wind with its movable windshield, its wide protective farings. I loved it though my wallet did not.
The Beemer was expensive to maintain. But it was my only mechanical passion. What’s life without one! I had mine and loved it.
Nearly 100,000 kms later, I was still a passionate admirer of this ride. But… After one maintenance servicing, my mechanic told me he had discovered a major engine issue, a stripped bolt which held the engine together. The other three were OK, but this one was stripped and useless. He jerry-rigged a solution and assured me the bike was safe to ride.
However a new passion entered my life, a Scottish terrier we named FERMO was keeping me close to home, more and more. My riding time became less and less. But the repair nagged me though Owen, my mechanic reassured me repeatedly that no engine failure would occur.
With the addition of decals, I gave the RT some classic Teutonic appeal. I didn’t think it was garish. In fact, I was simply hoping that it would be an eye-popper for every driver within sight of me. I would like to think my idea had merit for I never got hit by any driver ever. I like thinking that they SAW me.
But the stripped bolt nagged.
I was not riding much because of my new pup demanded my being close to home. So I sold the RT in 2014. Within days my heart ached with the loss of my bike. Only a bike rider would understand. In a week without a bike, depression began to set in. Week two, depression’s firm grip became unbearable.
I bought a replacement bike.
BMW R1200RT, 2014
The money from selling the 2006 RT lessened the pain of purchasing a new replacement.
What a dream machine. Bells and whistles like candy in a candy store. Less than three weeks later, the new RT was parked in my garage less and less, ridden a bit more each day. Fermo, the stubborn Scottie, seems comfortable with my absence for longer periods of time, longer and longer, permitting me more riding time, thank goodness.
What a machine! And so many enhancing accessories, the most enjoyed — the radio in my books! I prefer the boom boom of AM740 Zoomer radio to the vroom vroom of teutonic technology.
Do NOT ride that bike…
But within a couple of short weeks, with a mere 1000 kms on the new bike, I got a recall message from BWM. Not a simple, ‘Bring your bike in for a repair.’ No this was more dreadful, ‘DON’T RIDE YOUR BIKE. You could have a malfunction with very serious consequences. STOP RIDING…NOW!‘
It was June, the beginning of riding season. This is not Texas, or Florida or California where riding seasons are much longer. Our riding season is short. Were it not for the heated seats and heated grips on the RT, it would be even shorter. I remember the older bikes. Nearly froze my buns off. But to stop riding a newly purchased RT is like giving a kid a new kite, and then telling him he can’t go outside. Puleeeeeeze !
There is much more to this story. So come back, revisit. I will followup with what BMW is doing to make the recall more palatable. In the USA, they are offering riders use of BMW automobile as no cost loaners. Canada? Sure…bet on it!
My story is not over just yet!
What a bike…a veritable ugly ducking. Someday it will be a beautiful goose. Right now, I feel like I have been goosed !